Rapid antimicrobial susceptibility testing on positive blood cultures through an innovative light scattering technology: performances and turnaround time evaluation

BMC Infectious Diseases

Lidvine Boland†, Corentin Streel†, Hélène De Wolf, Hector Rodriguez and Alexia Verroken

Background: A bacteremia diagnosis with speeded-up identification and antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) is mandatory to adjust empirical broad-spectrum antibiotherapy and avoid the emergence of multi-resistant bacteria.
Alfred 60AST (Alifax, Polverara, PD, Italy) is an innovative automated system based on light scattering measurements allowing direct AST from positive blood cultures with rapid results. In this study we aimed to evaluate the system’s performances and turnaround time (TAT) compared to routine AST.
Methods: The study was conducted during 2 non-consecutive 3-month periods at the microbiology laboratory of the Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc. All blood cultures detected positive in the 0 AM–10 AM time frame with a pure Gram-positive cocci or Gram-negative bacilli stain were included for Alfred 60AST testing. Two customized EUCAST antibiotic panels were set up composed of 1) a “Gram-negative” panel including cefuroxime, ceftazidime Enterobacteriaceae, piperacillin-tazobactam Enterobacteriaceae, ciprofloxacine, and ceftazidime Pseudomonas 2) a “Gram-positive” panel including cefoxitin Staphylococcus aureus, cefoxitin coagulase-negative (CNS) Staphylococci and ampicillin Enterococci. Categorical agreement (CA), very major errors (VME), major errors (ME), minor errors (mE) and TAT to Alfred 60AST results were calculated in comparison with AST results obtained from direct testing on positive blood cultures with the Phoenix system (Becton Dickinson, Franklin Lakes, NJ, USA).
Results: Five hundred seventy and one hundred nine antibiotics were evaluated on respectively 166 Gram-negative bacilli and 109 Gram-positive cocci included in the studied population. During the first study period regarding Gram-negative strains a CA of 89.5% was obtained with a high rate of VME (19 and 15.4% respectively) for cefuroxime and piperacillin-tazobactam Enterobacteriaceae. Considering this, Alifax reviewed these antibiotics’ formulations improving Gram-negative bacilli total CA to 92.2% with no VME during the second study period. For Gram-positive cocci, total CA was 88.1% with 2.3% VME, 13.8% ME (mainly cefoxitin CNS) and 12% mE rates both study periods combined. Median TAT to AST results was 5 h with Alfred versus 12 h34 with Phoenix.

Conclusion: The Alfred 60AST system shows correct yet improvable microbiological performances and a major TAT reduction compared to direct automated AST testing. Clinical studies measuring the impact of the approach on antibiotic management of patients with bacteremia are recommended.

Keywords: Positive blood culture, Antimicrobial susceptibility testing, Direct AST, Alfred 60AST, Microbiological performances, Turnaround time, Bacteremia

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